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I spent about 16 hours on the trade show floor at HD Expo this past week. Unfortunately, because of cancellations and other airline issues, I spent more than 27 hours in airports and on planes getting to and from Hospitality Design’s annual event in Las Vegas. The good news is that the travel pains were well worth it as the hundreds of suppliers in attendance delivered not only a wide variety of green products but fascinating conversations as well. It would be impossible for me to mention all of the products I learned about in one column. There were certainly a lot one would expect to find at a design event—fabrics and carpet made from recycled or other eco-friendly fibers, for example. I saw many types of LED lighting. I did not see a single compact fluorescent on display. It is amazing how quickly lighting has changed. There was furniture made from reclaimed wood and recycled milk jugs.
April 20, 2010 was not a good day in our country’s history. We don’t think of “4-20” like we do “9-11” but it was the day of the gas release and subsequent explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people died and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. That day had a tremendous impact on Scott Miller. On the day of the accident he was working in finance at OppenheimerFunds in New York City. The oil rig disaster inspired him to leave his job and dedicate his life to green causes. Scott applied for and was accepted to the Masters in Sustainability program at Columbia University, where he recently graduated. It was last year, however, when things got really interesting for Scott. He applied for and was accepted into the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Fellows Program. Scott was matched with Las Vegas' Caesars Entertainment Corp. in early May 2013.
I am by no means a plastics historian but it is clear that 1990 was a big year—especially for the recycling of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the type of plastic used in milk jugs, detergent bottles, and shampoo bottles. It was then that Doug Rassi and Mark Phillabaum, founders and owners of Poly-Wood, Inc., discovered they could extrude recycled milk jugs into plastic lumber. That lumber could then be used to design and build outdoor furniture. Also in 1990, Environmental Specialty Products began making outdoor furniture using recycled HDPE. So too did Fibrex Group. Poly-Wood, Environmental Specialty Products and Fibrex Group are just three of the companies I highlight in an article posted this past week on outdoor furniture that incorporates recycled plastic content. A total of 10 suppliers are mentioned.
As mature as green building is today, there are just a handful of companies that have made a commitment to lead efforts to newly construct or renovate to either LEED standards or something comparable. Of course Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide with its Element brand comes to mind (12 hotels now open in United States and Canada). Atmosphere Hospitality Management is another with its Adoba Eco Hotel & Suites (two hotels open in the United States). Other developers have made strong commitments to LEED—Concord Hospitality is one example. A company I would like to highlight in this column is Charter House Innovations, Holland, Mich. The company was the first in our industry to open a LEED certified hotel in the Midwest—the 56-room, boutique-style CityFlatsHotel in Holland, Mich.
I suspect that Earth Day is every day for many of you but its official celebration date is Tuesday, April 22, and many in our industry are planning special events and promotions. A number of them are summarized in an article posted recently on the Green Lodging News site. Aqua Hospitality, for example, will celebrate Earth Day by supporting ocean preservation through both a volunteer cleanup and donation to Hui o Koolaupoko. Hyatt Place Raleigh-West and Southern States Management are hosting an Earth Day event to celebrate the hotel, as it is one of only a few U.S. Green Building Council LEED certified hotel options in the Raleigh (N.C.) area. On Earth Day, L’Auberge Del Mar guests will be provided with souvenir LED flashlights to encourage them to minimize use of lights in their guestrooms. Lights will also be dimmed throughout the property.
One of the most intriguing, cool, green hotels to come along in a while is going to open in Bogota, Colombia on May 15. The Biohotel Organic Suites is the creation of Samuel Huertas, an accountant and entrepreneur who told me his new seven-story, 72-room property is “my retirement plan.” With his family, Huertas actually owns 46 percent of the property with other “Bio Investors” owning the remainder. The Biohotel Organic Suites is the first hotel project for Huertas and is the result of five years of planning. The name alone certainly creates a certain level of expectations, doesn’t it? Aiming for LEED Gold certification, the hotel is quite impressive from a sustainability standpoint. I encourage you to visit the hotel’s website to see some of the images of the exterior and interior.
It was almost five years ago that I wrote about two guys—one based in Orlando (Shawn Seipler) and the other based in Houston (a friend of Shawn's)—who were astounded by the volume of partially used bars of soap and shampoo that were thrown away by inns, hotels and resorts. They were so inspired to do something about it that they got together and formed Clean the World, the nonprofit now known industrywide for its success in collecting and converting used soap bars into new bars fit for distribution to those in need. Clean the World also collects and distributes shampoos, conditioners, lotions and gels from participating hospitality partners and organizes the assembling and distribution of hygiene kits that include nine different items. Clean the World had a pretty good week last week.
The 2014 green events season is heating up. Do you know which events you will be attending in the coming months? In a little more than two weeks, the Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) will hold its annual conference in San Francisco (April 15 to 17 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square). Participants in that conference will have an opportunity to see and experience the sustainability efforts of one of 12 different locations throughout the city. The host hotel, the W Hotel San Francisco, and the Fairmont San Francisco will be three of the tour options. At HD Expo, May 14 to 16 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, attendees will have a chance to participate in four Green Voice Conversations and another panel discussion—all focused on different aspects of sustainability. I will be moderating one of the Conversations.
What do Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Portugal, Greece, Luxembourg, and Iceland have in common? They are now all part of the territory in which lodging establishments can participate in TripAdvisor’s GreenLeaders program. TripAdvisor expanded its program beyond the United States this past week. For those of you not familiar with GreenLeaders, it is a green lodging recognition program that requires completion of a survey documenting green practices. Properties can earn one of four levels of recognition—Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. The level of achievement, along with green practices, are shown prominently on the property’s listing on TripAdvisor.
In a previous position as an editor with IndustryWeek magazine I had an opportunity to visit some of the best manufacturing facilities in America. This past week I visited what has got to be one of the coolest ones. In case you missed it in last week’s newsletter, Harvest Power recently opened its Central Florida Energy Garden in Bay Lake, Fla. What the plant “manufactures” is energy and fertilizer from three different waste streams—food scraps; fats, oil and grease (FOG); and biosolids from an adjacent water treatment plant. Together, this “waste” is “digested” in an anaerobic digester with the resulting products being biogas (mostly methane) and solids useable as fertilizer. To get a sense of how the plant works you really need to visit it. Food waste is trucked in from various facilities including hotels and restaurants.
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